Active Faculty Grants

Here is a list of active external grants that have been awarded to current Williams faculty in support of their leave, research, and/or programmatic activities. Awards are listed alphabetically by funding organization.

Have you received a grant award that is not included here?  Please let us know!

Note:  Your colleagues have agreed to make successful proposals available as a resource to help aid others in the grant writing process.  Copies of these proposals can be accessed via the “Faculty Grant Proposal Library” in GLOW.


American Chemical Society (ACS)

Phoebe Cohen, Associate Professor of Geosciences, received a $70,000 ACS Petroleum Research Fund grant for her research on using organic-walled microfossils to reconstruct past environments and paleo-ecological conditions, focusing on the Late Devonian biodiversity crisis. (June 2016)

Katharine JensenAssistant Professor of Physics, has received a $55,000 Petroleum Research Fund Undergraduate New Investigator research grant to support a two-year experimental program exploring the fundamental physics behind two related, everyday fluid phenomena: how liquid leaks from a small hole in a pipe, and whether fluid will pour cleanly or messily from a container. While ubiquitous in everyday life, the science behind these phenomena remains poorly understood and involves complex interactions between geometry, surface tension, viscosity, and other properties of the fluid and solid materials involved.

The goal of Professor Jensen’s project is to develop a predictive understanding of such “leaking flows” and how transitions occur between different types of flow, including spouting, dribbling, and spontaneously starting and stopping. This grant will support multiple undergraduate research students for full- and part-time research through fall 2023.  (October 2020)

American Mathematical Society

Image result for Williams College Ralph Morrison, Assistant Professor of MathematicsRalph Morrison, Assistant Professor of Mathematics, was awarded a $4,000 AMS-Simons Travel Grant.  Professor Morrison will use this grant to visit collaborators to work on his research on tropical geometry.  Tropical mathematics begins by replacing the usual rules of arithmetic (addition and multiplication) with new ones (taking a minimum, and addition), which helps to solve optimization problems, including scheduling and job assignments.  Professor Morrison researches some of the geometric shapes that are defined by polynomial equations in this tropical setting, which are called tropical curves. In particular, he works on studying what structures tropical curves can have, and on how to relate them to the more standard algebraic curves that we are used to. (July 2019)

Bioversity International

Susan Godlonton, Associate Professor of Economics, has been awarded a three-year, $340,633 grant to support her research project, “Small Mechanisation Impact Stimuli in Ethiopia (SMISE).” Using a randomized controlled trial, Professor Godlonton and her international team will examine the impact of demand-side and supply-side interventions within the small-scale mechanization sector in Ethiopia on the take-up of farm machinery services..  (January 2021)

EDGE Foundation

Pamela Harris, Associate Professor of Mathematics, has been named an inaugural Karen EDGE Fellow by the EDGE Foundation, an organization that provides ongoing support for women pursuing careers in the mathematical sciences at several critical stages of their careers. Professor Harris will use her EDGE Fellowship to build and strengthen inclusive and diverse mathematical research groups, targeting both financial and mentoring support for postdoctoral fellows and junior faculty. More information about this fellowship and Professor Harris’s research is available here.  (May 2020)

Getty Research Institute

Ondine Chavoya, Professor of Art, has received a $65,000 Getty Scholarship, which will support Professor Chavoya’s 2021-2022 academic year residency at the Getty Institute and his research on Latinx visual culture, specifically the interactions between art, social space, and the urban environment. More information about this grant award and Professor Chavoya’s research is available here. (April 2020)

Institute for Citizens and Scholars

Vivian Huang, Assistant Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, has been awarded a 2021 Mellon Emerging Faculty Leaders Award. This $17,500 grant will support summer and academic-year research assistants for Professor Huang’s research project, “Surface Relations: Queer Forms of Asian American Inscrutability,” which studies the strategic redeployment of the gendered racial trope of Asian as Inscrutable Other by Asian and Asian American artists, such as performance artist Tseng Kwong Chi and conceptual artist Yoko Ono. More information about this year’s Mellon Emerging Faculty Leaders Awards can be found here.  (March 2021)

Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

LeRhonda (Rhon) Manigault-Bryant, Professor of Africana Studies and Faculty Affiliate in Religion, received a $300,000 New Directions Fellowship to pursue substantive and methodological training in film studies and documentary filmmaking. As a New Directions Fellow, Professor Manigault-Bryant will attend Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies, where she will pursue full-time training in film production during the academic year. She will complete an internship and further coursework during the summers at NYU’s Tisch School for the Arts. More information about this grant award and Professor Manigault-Bryant’s research is available here. (April 2018)

National Geographic Society

Lecturer in Religion and Anthropology/Sociology Kim Gutschow received a $100,000 grant for her project “Climate Change Adaptation: By the People & For the People.” The project will train and empower Himalayan women and youth to advocate for site-specific, climate-smart policy and interventions within the Zangskar subdistrict of the Ladakh region of India. You can read more about her project here.  (January 2020)

Jessica Chapman, Professor of History, was awarded a $240,000 New Directions Fellowship to pursue substantive and methodological training in the field of anthropology. This training will aid her research related to the economic and cultural significance of Kenya’s running industry. More information about this grant award and Professor Chapman’s research is available here. (March 2016)

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Matt Carter, Associate Professor of Biology, was awarded a three-year $369,369 grant from the NIH to study the neural basis of appetite suppression. This grant will allow numerous undergraduates to use modern neuroscience tools to study how the brain regulates hunger. More information about this grant award and Professor Carter’s research is available here. (September 2018)

Katie Hart, Assistant Professor of Chemistry, has been awarded a three-year $378,000 grant from the NIH to research the relationship between the chemical composition of proteins known as beta-lactamases, a family of enzymes involved in antibiotic resistance, and their ability to degrade medicinal drugs. More information about this grant award and Professor Hart’s research is available here.  (June 2019)

image of Professor Loehlin David Loehlin, Assistant Professor of Biology, has received a three-year $401,846 grant from the NIH to support his research into the genetic factors that cause excess expression from tandem duplicate genes, which are core parts of the human genome structure, as well as known causes of disease and individual variation. Professor Loehlin’s research team, primarily composed of undergraduate students, will apply innovative gene construction techniques and precise quantitative expression assays in Drosophila flies to provide new insight into how tandem genes work.  More information about this grant award and Professor Loehlin’s research is available here. (September 2020)

National Science Foundation (NSF)

Daniel Barowy, Assistant Professor Computer Science, has received a three-year $209,887 NSF grant to support his research of techniques that correctly and efficiently automate the software development tasks of compilation, debugging, and deployment without programming. This project has the potential to impact the day-to-day work of software developers significantly. Professor Barowy will be working on this grant in collaboration with Assistant Professor of Computer Science Charlie Curtsinger from Grinnell College.  (July 2020)

Ron Bassar, Assistant Professor of Biology, has been awarded a three-year $1,616,701 NSF grant for support of his research project, “The Evolution of Fluctuation-Dependent Species Coexistence.” This work will study populations of guppies and killifish in Trinidad with the goal of understanding how temporal variation in ecological and evolutionary processes allow similar species to coexist. Colleagues from the University of California at Riverside, Florida State University, and the University of Oxford will be working with Professor Bassar on this project. More information about this grant award and Professor Bassar’s research is available here.  (May 2021)

Alice Bradley, Assistant Professor of Geosciences, has received a five-year $139,300 NSF grant to support her research project on sustained observations of rapid Arctic change. This project brings together experts from different branches of science and engineering (including professors from the International Arctic Research Center at University of Alaska Fairbanks), as well as Arctic Indigenous experts and organizations to advance coordination, design, and implementation of such sustained observations, focusing particularly on the topic of food security in the Pacific Arctic maritime sector.  (July 2020)

Matt Carter, Associate Professor of Biology, received a five-year $586,000 CAREER NSF grant to support his research into sleep and wakefulness. More information about this grant award and Professor Carter’s research is available here. (April 2017)

Phoebe Cohen, Associate Professor of Geosciences, has been awarded a two-year $79,585 NSF grant to support her research using a new technique to explore how organic carbon isotopes can illuminate persistent unknowns in the Proterozoic Earth-life system. Professor Cohen will be working on this grant in collaboration with professors from the University of California-Santa Barbara and Syracuse University.  (February 2019)

Rónadh Cox, Edward Brust Professor of Geology and Mineralogy, has received a three-year, $340,000 NSF grant to support her research on how boulder beaches respond to storms and how they change over time. Professor Cox’s research seeks to increase understanding of the dynamic evolution of boulder beaches and will focus on 22 sites in Ireland, which has a wide range of boulder-beach settings, so that the results will be applicable to other locations worldwide. More information about this grant award and Professor Cox’s research is available here.  (June 2020)

Charlie Doret, Associate Professor of Physics, received a $166,519 NSF grant to support his research on thermal conductivity on the nanoscale level. (July 2017)

Stephen Freund, Chair and John B. McCoy and John T. McCoy Professor of Computer Science, received a three-year $199,999 NSF grant into ways to automatically synthesize high-performance concurrent software systems for multicore processors and multiprocessor hardware. Such software is currently written by hand—a process that is notoriously challenging and error prone. More information about this grant award and Professor Freund’s research is available here. (July 2018)

Lisa Gilbert, Professor of Geosciences and Marine Sciences at Williams-Mystic, received a $35,128 subaward from Carleton College as part of a larger grant from the NSF. This seven-year grant supports the STEP Center project, which is a collaboration between partners at several schools and organizations. Its mission is to (1) develop curricula that will dramatically increase geoscience literacy of all undergraduate students, including the large majority that do not major in the geosciences, those who are historically under-represented in the geosciences, and future K-12 teachers; and (2) increase the number of majors in the geosciences and associated fields by developing model programs to prepare a workforce that can address the challenges faced by modern civilization of living sustainably on the planet. More information on the STEP Center project is available here. (April 2016)

Image result for Iris Howley, Assistant Professor of Computer ScienceIris Howley, Assistant Professor of Computer Science, has been awarded a two-year $150,474 NSF grant to support her research on the relationship between instructor and student understanding of artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms underlying educational technology, and how this algorithmic understanding impacts decision-making in learning contexts.  (April 2019)

Sarah Jacobson, Associate Professor of Economics, has received a two-year $205,072 NSF grant to support her research into the motives and beliefs behind in-kind donations, an aspect of charitable giving that has received little attention in economics research. Professor Jacobson will be collaborating on this project with colleagues from the University of Massachusetts and the University at Albany, State University of New York.  (September 2020)

Katharine Jensen, Assistant Professor of Physics, has received a three-year $254,148 NSF grant for support of her research project, “RUI: Hydropowered Plants: How primitive land plants reproduce by harnessing mechanical energy from water.” Professor Jensen and her team of two undergraduate summer researchers will study how botanical systems harness mechanical energy from water to facilitate their reproductive processes, centering their study on the asexual and sexual reproduction mechanisms of the primitive land plant Marchantia polymorpha, a common liverwort. The work will particularly focus on how these plants effect motion and direct self-assembly using surface energy through capillary interactions, as well as the interaction of surface tension and splashing mechanics to facilitate distribution of reproductive material.  (July 2021)

Kevin Jones, William Edward McElfresh Professor of Physics, was awarded a $131,876 NSF subaward through the Joint Quantum Institute (JQI) at the University of Maryland, College Park. As a visiting researcher at the JQI, Professor Jones will study the noise characteristics of phase measurement devices based on non-classical light. He will theoretically investigate and help assemble cascaded amplifiers that are part of SU(1,1) interferometer designs.

Professor Jones will also continue the development and study of phase-measuring devices based on active gain media. He will take part in the design of experiments and assist students that are involved in these experiments, as well as help to maintain the lasers and optical equipment in the JQI laboratories. (September 2017)

Protik Majumder, Barclay Jermain Professor of Natural Philosophy, has been awarded a three-year $364,933 NSF grant to continue his research program of high-precision spectroscopic studies of heavy metal atoms such as indium, thallium, lead, and tin. This grant is the latest renewal in a series of NSF awards that Professor Majumder has received starting in 1998. Professor Majumder will use this new grant to build and test laser and optical systems, construct and optimize electronics and control systems, and use computer-based methods to collect and then model and analyze large amounts of data. For more than two decades, this project has included more than 60 Williams students, including 35 senior thesis students, who have made important contributions to this work. More information about this grant award and Professor Majumder’s research is available here.  (July 2019)

Associate Professor of Biology Luana Maroja has received a three-year $300,000 NSF grant to support her research examining how new species arise and persist across different environments. Professor Maroja’s project, “The Evolution and Maintenance of Variable Species Boundaries,” combines field work with new technology to increase understanding of how speciation, the process through which new species are formed and a fundamental driver of biodiversity, takes place. More information about Professor Maroja’s grant and her research is available here.  (June 2020)

Professor Maroja has two additional active NSF grants that she received in 2017. These grants, totaling $137,315, also support her ongoing research into evolutionary genetics. More information about these awards is available here. (July 2017)

Samuel McCauley, Assistant Professor of Computer Science, has been awarded a two-year $148,707 NSF grant for support of his research project, “New Approaches for Space-Efficient Similarity Search.” Professor McCauley’s research seeks to improve the state-of-the-art in space-efficient data structures for similarity search, a fundamental data structure problem, in which a set is preprocessed so that “close” elements (or approximately close elements) to a given query can be quickly returned.  (June 2021)

Steven Miller, Professor of Mathematics and Thomas Garrity, Webster Atwell Class of 1921 Professor of Mathematics, have been awarded a three-year, $416,100 NSF grant in support of the SMALL REU program at Williams. The SMALL program is a nine-week residential summer program in which undergraduates from all over the U.S. come to investigate open research problems in mathematics. Approximately 500 students have participated in the project since its inception in 1988. (January 2020)

Ralph Morrison, Assistant Professor of Mathematics, has received a three-year $198,946 NSF grant to support his research into a wide variety of problems related to chip-firing games on graphs and graph gonality, particularly through the lens of algorithms, computation, and implementation. Chip-firing games are one-player games on a graph and an important part of the study of structural combinatorics. (July 2020)

Steven Nafziger, Professor of Economics, received a $110,266 collaborative NSF grant for his research into corporate law and finance in pre-Revolution Russia. This grant will support Professor Nafziger’s work with Middlebury College professor Amanda Gregg as they collect and analyze data describing Russian corporations prior to the October Revolution of 1917. This historical project speaks to the role that legal institutions, corporate governance, and finance play in the process of economic development. (June 2017)

Jay Pasachoff, Chair and Field Memorial Professor of Astronomy, was awarded a three-year $251,408 NSF grant for support of his solar-eclipse research. This grant includes support for expeditions for Professor Pasachoff’s team of students and colleagues for the July 2, 2019, total eclipse in Chile; for the December 14, 2020, total eclipse in Argentina; and the December 4, 2021, total eclipse on and over Antarctica. More information about this grant award and Professor Pasachoff’s research is available here.  (May 2019)

In April 2021, Professor Pasachoff received an additional one-year $49,980 grant from the NSF to supplement his 2019 award.

Assistant Professor of Computer Science Shikha Singh has received a two-year, $155,000 NSF grant, which will support Professor Singh’s research, focusing on verifying that computation outsourced to third-party service providers has been performed correctly. Her work aims to increase understanding of the role of incentives in algorithms, which has wide applications to areas such as crowdsourcing, cloud computing, and social computing. More information about her research can be found here. (January 2020)

Chad Topaz, Professor of Mathematics, received a three-year $202,524 NSF RUI grant for his research project, which investigates two pattern-forming systems in nature. This project will investigate changes in large-scale, striped patterns of vegetation in semi-arid environments such as the Horn of Africa, to see how they may be indicators of climate change and desertification. It will also look at collective behavior that may arise when organisms interact, as in bird flocks, fish schools and insect swarms. More information on the grant can be found here. (August 2018)

Daniel Turek, Assistant Professor of Statistics, received a $74,820 subaward from the University of California at Berkeley as part of a larger NSF grant supporting a research project that will develop software meant to enable scientists to learn more from complex data and to share new analysis methods more easily. (October 2016)

New York University Abu Dhabi

Associate Professor Susan Godlonton received a $25,048 REALM grant to support her  “Constructing Migration Histories Data from Sudan” project. Professor Godlonton and her team will partner with the Secretariat of Sudanese Working Abroad to collect records on all migrants from Sudan, including details on their occupation, duration of migration, and education. Such detailed data are rare, and will help shed light on migration patterns between Africa and countries in the Gulf, which is a migration channel that has been largely understudied. (June 2018)

Research Corporation for Science Advancement

Catherine Kealhofer, Assistant Professor of Physics, has received a $100,000 Cottrell Scholar Award. This three-year grant will support Professor Kealhofer’s research project, which will use ultrafast electron diffuse scattering to explore how electrons and phonons interact. She will also restructure one of Williams’ introductory modern physics courses, Physics 151, around reading a series of papers from primary research literature. Learn more about Professor Kealhofer’s research and her Cottrell Scholar Award here.  (February 2020)

Russell Sage Foundation

Tara Watson,
Professor of Economics, Lucie Schmidt, John J. Gibson Professor of Economics, and Lara Shore-Sheppard, Chair and Kimberly A. ’96 and Robert R. ’62 Henry Professor of Economics, have been awarded a $74,991 grant to support their project, “Does Social Security Reduce Child Poverty and Boost the Academic Achievement of Low-Income Children?” Through this research, they aim to exploit a quasi‐exogenous source of variation in household income – Social Security eligibility at age 62 for an older relative – to measure the causal effect of a stable income source on child educational outcomes and to understand why such a  relationship holds. They are particularly interested in impacts on low‐income households, for whom Social Security income represents a bigger share of the overall budget. (March 2019)

Social Science Research Council

Casey Bohlen, Visiting Assistant Professor of History and Religion, has received a $15,406 Religion, Spirituality, and Democratic Renewal Postdoctoral Fellowship to support his project “Back to the Garden: Civil Disobedience and the Postwar Transformation of American Religion.” Professor Bohlen will use the fellowship to undertake an oral history collection project, interviewing clergy and laypeople who were members of social action organizations during the late 1960s and early 1970s. He will explore whether their departure from organized religion was understood as an embrace of secularism or a search for more authentic religious commitment and civic engagement outside of institutional structures.  (May 2020)

W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research

Matthew Gibson, Assistant Professor of Economics, has received a $5,000 Early Career Research Award, which will support his research into employer market power in high- and low-earning jobs. He will specifically investigate fast-food franchise non-compete clauses and the 2018-2019 court settlements that led to these clauses being dropped nationwide, and their effect on the labor market.  (April 2020)

The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts

Professor of Art C. Ondine Chavoya and independent curator David Evans Frantz have received a $42,000 Warhol Curatorial Research Fellowship to prepare Teddy Sandoval and the Butch Gardens School of Art, a major retrospective of artist Teddy Sandoval (1949-1995). This exhibition will be held in 2022-23 at the Williams College Museum of Art and the Vincent Price Art Museum at East Los Angeles College in California. More information about this grant award and Professor Chavoya’s research is available here.  (July 2020)

Whiting Foundation

Christine DeLucia, Assistant Professor of History, has received a $10,000 Whiting Public Engagement Seed Grant for her project, “Extending ‘Footprints of Our Ancestors’: Collaborative Pathways for Interpreting Stockbridge-Munsee Mohican Heritage.” Professor DeLucia will collaborate with the Stockbridge Munsee Band of the Mohican Indians, the Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area, and academic partners to develop digital resources and an in-person walking tour of Main Street in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, which will use place-based storytelling to illuminate networks of kinship, Indigenous history and memory, and the area’s lasting significance to the Stockbridge Munsee Band. More information about this grant award and Professor DeLucia’s research is available here. (February 2020)

Marion & Jasper Whiting Foundation

Pamela Harris, Associate Professor of Mathematics, has been awarded a 2021-2022 Whiting Fellowship. This $13,601 grant will support Professor Harris’s travel to South Korea and Japan where she will spend time at the Korean Institute for Advanced Study (KIAS) and the Research Alliance Center for Mathematical Sciences (RACMaS), respectively. While at KIAS, Professor Harris and her colleague, Dr. Hayan Nam, will begin new projects at the intersection of parking functions and study of related combinatorial structures. At RACMaS, Professor Harris will participate in lectures and seminars of the Discrete Structures Analysis Group, which will provide new mathematical directions and techniques to extend her research and teaching agenda. (April 2021)